Wednesday 21 February 2018

Celebrity chef Corrigan sticks the knife in over 'outrageous' rent for restaurant


Celebrity chef Richard Corrigan has criticised Dublin's sky-high rent prices on the iconic St Stephen's Green, saying he finds his €6,000 weekly rent and rates bill hard to stomach.

The award-winning chef is in negotiations with his landlord to reduce the rent but has dismissed rumours he is about to close down his upmarket restaurant, Bentley's.

Speaking about the level of rents in Dublin, he said: "I'm sure landlords now realise how outrageous the rent prices have been. In the past and going forward. And they all need to cop on now," he warned.

"We ain't in f**king Manhattan, we ain't in Mount Street in Mayfair -- so let's cop on to ourselves."

Mr Corrigan also described how rent prices at the prime location are crippling other businesses, who are battling to survive.

"I've spoken to other businesses around the Green which have huge issues with rent. There's a market rent and you can't be charging international rental prices. Look at Grafton Street, it's starting to empty," he said.

But the outspoken chef rubbished rumours doing the rounds that he was pulling out of Ireland in the coming weeks.

"Bentley's is mine and I'm not looking to move it or shift it at all, but yes there are a lot of stresses surrounding rents and rates. We're not moving at this moment in time but if you asked me in a year's time I'd probably have a different answer for you."

Asked how his famed fish brasserie is coping in the downturn, he said: "I opened on the day recession was announced. I traded in Dublin through the most difficult meltdown in Irish corporate history.

"I've managed to pay all my taxes in January, all my staff increments to the taxman have been paid and I'd like to say we will be up to date in February with the majority of our suppliers," he said.

"We run our operation properly -- where you put yourself at the end of the queue and everyone else is before me. The staff are first, the landlord is second, the suppliers are third, the Government is fourth and you are at the very end of that pecking order."

The Michelin-star chef, who commutes between Dublin and his restaurant Corrigan's Mayfair in London, also moved to distance Bentley's brassiere from the financial problems of his business partner Barry O'Callaghan's firm, Education Media and Publishing Group (EMPG).

Mr O'Callaghan, who owns 70pc of the lease for Bentley's, is planning a major financial restructuring of EMPG that could see debt levels reduced by 70 per cent and fresh capital of about $600m (€413m) being injected into the business.

Speaking about the reports, Mr Corrigan said: "Barry has had his fair share of problems over the past couple of weeks with EPMG and I'm sure Bentley's has been mixed up in the rumours as well.

"I took my money and I put it into Dublin. Do I regret it? No I don't. Why? Because I've had some of the best f**king nights this past year and a half. And I wouldn't change any of it."

Sunday Independent

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